| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 303, 18 May 2009
Welcome to this year's 20th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! After last week's tip on how to upgrade a stable Mandriva Linux to the distribution's development branch (Cooker), we'll continue the series with a tutorial on running Slackware "Current", the development branch of the world's oldest surviving Linux distro. In the news section, Fedora presents a tentative look at a possible feature set for its next version; Ubuntu announces a new service for cloud computing amid controversy over its proprietary nature; the Debian-Desktop project launches new KDE 4 packages for "Lenny", and PC-BSD continues to expand its desktop options with Xfce and GNOME. Also in this week's issue - a roadmap for Sabayon Linux covering the rest of 2009 and a new security oriented live CD with OWASP. Happy reading!
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Running Slackware "Current"
Note: This article has been updated. The original slackroll method of updating to Slackware "Current" has been removed because it was "all wrong", according to slackroll's author Ricardo Garcia.
Last week's tips and tricks section provided information on how to "upgrade" a stable Mandriva release to the latest development branch. Although running development trees and upgrading them in regular intervals can be risky and may even render your system unbootable or otherwise unstable, it is an excellent way of participating in the development of your favourite distribution and reporting bugs to upstream projects. Needless to say, some Linux knowledge and experience is required, so this should only be done by those users who know how to fix their bootloader if things go wrong!
Today we continue this series with a look at how to run the development tree of the oldest surviving Linux distribution - Slackware Linux. From my experience, running Slackware "current" is generally trouble-free, certainly more so that running the development trees of most other major distributions. This is partly the result of Slackware's philosophy of building the distribution from unmodified "vanilla" upstream sources, and partly due the founder's selective conservatism with regards to switching to newer, but not well-tested core components, including the Linux kernel. Despite that, most end-user applications are highly up-to-date and running Slackware current provides the user with a modern system with many of the latest applications available for Linux.
So if you have a stable Slackware system installed, how to you switch to the "current" tree? This is somewhat less straightforward than in other distributions because Slackware doesn't believe in dependency-resolving package management systems, so the "proper" way of doing this would be to download each individual software package from the current tree and install it with pkgtools. Given that this tree gets on average 2 - 3 updates per week, some of which could contain dozens of packages, this would be very time consuming indeed! Instead, we are going to use slackpkg, an automated package management system that has recently entered the main Slackware tree after years in the extra directory. Here are the steps to upgrade your stable Slackware system to Slackware "current":
- Set your preferred slackware-current mirror by uncommenting the relevant line in /etc/slackpkg/mirrors.
- Update package list: # slackpkg update
- Install new packages: # slackpkg install-new
- Upgrade all installed packages: # slackpkg upgrade-all
- Run the above again (due to recent switch from TGZ to TXZ packages): # slackpkg upgrade-all
- Remove unneeded packages: # slackpkg clean-system
- Repeat steps 2, 3, 4 and 6 once or twice a week to ensure that you are always in sync with the "current" development.
That's all. Once you are done and everything went as planned, you'll be running a system with Linux kernel 126.96.36.199, glibc 2.9, GCC 4.3.3, KDE 4.2.3, Xfce 4.6.1, Firefox 3.0.10, GIMP 2.6.6 and many other applications in their latest versions!
Dip your toes into the future Slackware Linux 13.0 by running the distribution's "current" tree
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Tentative features for Fedora 12, Ubuntu One controversy, Debian "Lenny" with KDE 4, PC-BSD with Xfce and GNOME
With the expected release on 26 May, it won't be long now before Fedora 11 goes gold. Those of you participating in Fedora's beta programme or follow the popular distribution on news sites are probably well-aware of the enormous range of interesting features that the new release will come with. For the rest of us, this blog post has a nice summary, with features ranging from a new default file system and latest versions of popular applications to 20-second boot-up and virtual authentication: "The ext4 file system has more features and generally better performance than ext3, which is showing its age in the Linux file system world. Features include: delayed allocation and mballoc allocator for better on-disk allocation; sub-second timestamps; space pre-allocation; journal check-summing; large (>2 TB) file support (this is an absolutely essential inclusion); large (>16 TB) file system support; defragmentation support."
Speaking about Fedora, Phoronix is again one step ahead of everyone else, by looking at an early list of possible features for Fedora 12: "A tentative feature list for this next Fedora release can already be found on the Fedora Project Wiki. Some of these features, like the straightforward multi-seat support, were originally targeted for Leonidas but were then pushed back to Fedora 12. Additionally though, Red Hat intends to introduce liblvm in Fedora 12 to allow user-space applications to interface with an LVM (Logical Volume Manager). In Fedora 12, Red Hat intends to replace nash/mkinitrd with Dracut, which is a modular initramfs generation tool. Instead of using Pidgin as the default instant messaging program, in Fedora 12 the default will become GNOME's Empathy program. The other items on the list right now include the debuginfo file-system and Systemtap static probes. While not officially confirmed yet, the release of Fedora 12 at this time appears to be the first or second week of November."
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The Ubuntu world was rocked last week by an announcement about Ubuntu One a web-based file-sharing and file-synchronisation system for the promised era of cloud computing. The Register explains: "Ubuntu's commercial backer won't fluff its own cloud, but Canonical isn't eschewing online services in the battle against Microsoft. Canonical has begun beta tests of a web-based service that'll let you store and synchronize files on your Jaunty Jackalope PC with other Jackalope-powered machines. Called Ubuntu One, it's designed to provide you with access to your files using a web interface when you're away from your main machine. The service also promises to let you share documents with others." While all this sounds like a worthy goal to pursue, not everyone in the Ubuntu community is happy. The reason? The Ubuntu One server will be a proprietary system. Brian Burger on Planet Ubuntu: "Big chunks of Launchpad are still non-free, and of course about half the mess with Ubuntu One is the fact that it's only half-free - the client is free, the whole server side is totally proprietary. Another, even larger and more awesome irony: The proprietary nature of Ubuntu One's server-side code has, so far, mostly produced controversy and a nifty but not ground-breaking web application. The open-source client side has already produced parts of a nifty new UI for encrypted directories that will (hopefully) be in the next release of Nautilus."
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Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 "Lenny" has been out for a while, receiving mostly positive coverage in the media. However, one often-heard criticism of the project tends to come from desktop users, some of whom would prefer a stable Debian base system with a more up-to-date desktop and other end-user applications. Is there a way to take advantage of the stability of "Lenny", while running the freshest desktop packages? Indeed there is! The unofficial Debian-Desktop project has been hard at providing the latest KDE 4 packages (including KDE 4.2.3) for "Lenny" and has even released a set of Debian live DVDs with KDE 4.2.3 for those who'd like to have a feel for the desktop before opening the sources.list file and committing to the adventurous upgrade. Please see the project's web site for more information. On a related note, the BrDesktop project has announced the availability of a Debian "Lenny" variant pre-configured for Brazilian users: "The BrDesktop difference is in the selection, default language, programs and security pre-configurations for home desktop users, a streamlined installation aided by pre-configurations, a live CD option, a unique desktop theme, and the participation of the Brazilian Debian community." The installation CD images for i386 and amd64 architectures are available for download from here.
Debian "Lenny" for Brazil - courtesy of the BrDesktop team
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The PC-BSD continues to work hard at providing BSD fans with a ready-made, easy-to-use BSD system for the desktop. Its default KDE 4 desktop isn't to everybody's taste, however, and it's quite possible that the project would gain a much larger following if other desktop options were made available by the project. Last week, the first KDE alternatives were announced on FreeBSDNews: "PC-BSD Software has now made an Xfce PBI available. PC-BSD comes with KDE 4 pre-installed, but if you prefer a lightweight window manager, this one is for you. The GNOME desktop PBI can be downloaded here. Another interesting PBI is the Thin Client Server. This PBI installs DHCPCD and configures PC-BSD as a Thin Client Server. Clients connected to the servers NIC, will be able to network boot via DHCPD and PXE, and then be brought to a KDM login screen. For more details about this PBI, please read through our Thin Client Wiki." PC-BSD's PBI is the project's intuitive, web-based package management system that can be installed with a mouse click. On a related note, PC-BSD founder Kris Moore has published a video of his talk given recently at AsiaBSDCon 2009 in Tokyo, entitled PC-BSD - making FreeBSD on the desktop a reality.
|Released Last Week
Zenwalk Live 6.0
Pierrick Le Brun has announced the release of Zenwalk Live 6.0, a live CD edition of the popular Slackware-based distribution: "Zenwalk Live 6.0, the latest Zenwalk in a live CD format, is ready! Based on Zenwalk's current repository, Zenwalk live 6.0 is an almost perfect clone of the latest Zenwalk 6.0 with the addition of the latest security patches and bug fixes. Zenwalk Live 6.0 uses version 6.2.9 of the Linux-Live scripts and its kernel 188.8.131.52 is patched with Aufs, Squashfs and LZMA with sqlzma. Our native utilities, LiloFix and LiveClone, have been entirely rewritten in Glade/Python and new functionalities have been added to LiveClone. If you've just recently migrated to Linux, a beginner's guide will assist and guide you through all the basics." Read the rest of the release announcement for further information.
Mehdi Magnon has announced the release of Sabily 9.04, an Ubuntu-based distribution containing a selection of Islamic software, including prayer times, a Quran study tool, Arabic learning software and a web content filtering utility: "The Sabily team is proud to announce the release of Sabily 9.04, code name 'Taibah'. Sabily is the new name of Ubuntu Muslim Edition. New in this release: hijra, a Hijri Islamic calendar tray applet; mus-haf Othman, Othman Quran browser which displays Quran text in Othmani script style; updated artwork; Thwab can now open Shamela books. Main features: WebStrict parental control tool; Zekr 0.7.2 (Quran study tool), able to play Quran recitations; prayer times applications - Minbar and Firefox Pray Times add-on; Thwab (encyclopaedia); full support for Arabic...." Read the remainder of the release announcement for further details.
Sabily 9.04 - an Ubuntu-based distribution with Islamic software and support for Arabic
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François Dupoux has released SystemRescueCd 1.2.0, a Gentoo-based live CD with a collection of hard disk management and data rescue utilities: "SystemRescueCd 1.2.0 has just been released. It's a major release and it comes with a new kernel version, new desktop environment, and update for important packages. First, the graphical environment has been updated. It's now based on X.Org Server 1.5.3, which improves the hardware support and comes with new drivers. The desktop environment is now Xfce, because it's both very good (very comfortable, many settings) and very small. Parts of Xfce which are not essential and which have many dependencies have not been included. The kernel has been updated to version 2.6.29; it comes with more drivers and it also supports the very promising Btrfs file system (still under heavy development). GParted has been updated to 0.4.5." Read the complete release announcement to learn about other major changes in this release.
SystemRescueCd 1.2.0 - now using a minimalist Xfce desktop
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NetBSD developer Zafer Aydogan has announced the release of Jibbed 5.0, a live CD based on NetBSD 5.0. An announcement went out a few days ago, but now it has been updated to include information about new features: "Here we go again the with a new version of the NetBSD live CD. This time it's version 5.0, built from the finest NetBSD-5 sources. As usual, the live CD contains the latest packages from pkgsrc and three new packages: AbiWord and two fantastic games - Wormux and Crack Attack!. As always it contains X.Org from base and the Xfce window manager. Jibbed is a bootable live CD based on the NetBSD operating system that works directly from a CD without touching a hard drive. It provides automatic hardware detection and supports many graphics cards, sound cards and USB devices. It also features a rescue environment for NetBSD." Visit the project's home page to read the brief release announcement.
Jibbed 5.0 - NetBSD on a live CD, with automatic hardware detection and Xfce desktop
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Ekaaty Linux 3
A new major version of Ekaaty Linux, a Brazilian desktop Linux distribution based on Fedora and featuring KDE 3.5.10, has been released. This is the project's most stable and polished release to-date, with many new features implemented during the past two years of development. Some of the most interesting among them include: Faster boot time - less than 30 seconds on conventional hardware; the ability to install audio and video codecs, as well as additional applications, during system installation; introduction of Secure Updates, a package update mechanism that prevents updates that could be harmful to the stability of the system; introduction of the MediaBox profile, with a suite of applications for editing audio, video and graphics files, e.g. Hydrogen, Audacity, Ardour, Rosegarden and others. Please see the release announcement and release notes (both links in Portuguese) for further details.
Ekaaty Linux 3 - a Brazilian desktop distribution based on Fedora
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Foresight Linux 2.1.1
Og Maciel has announced the release of Foresight Linux 2.1.1, an rPath-based distribution featuring the latest GNOME desktop and other GNOME technologies: "It is with great pleasure that I announce the release of Foresight Linux 2.1.1. Well-known for being a desktop operating system featuring an intuitive user interface and a showcase of the latest desktop software, this new release brings you the latest GNOME 2.26.1 release, a newer Linux kernel 2.6.29, a revamped notification area, and a ton of X.Org improvements! GNOME 2.26 features improvements to file sharing, better support for multiple monitors and projectors, integration with fingerprint readers and many more updates. The distribution includes a new Linux kernel, 184.108.40.206, which adds support for WiMAX and new wireless drivers such as Ralink rt2860/70." Read the rest of the release announcement and release notes for more information.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Sabayon Linux 2009 roadmap
The developers of Sabayon Linux have published a release roadmap for the remainder of 2009. The project's next release, version 4.2 beta, is scheduled for early next month, before the focus of development shifts towards the next major release, version 5.0. If the roadmap holds true, we should see no fewer than four stable Sabayon Linux releases before this year is over. But as is often the case with Linux distributions, the developers warn that "dates can change without notice. It's more important for us to give you a stable release." For further information please visit the Sabayon roadmap page.
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Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to database
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- OWASP Live CD. OWASP Live CD is a project that collects some of the best open source security projects in a single environment. Web developers, testers and security professionals can boot the live CD and have access to a full security testing suite. This allows its users to test for various security issues in web applications and web sites. OWASP Live CD also contains documentation and an interactive learning environment (Web Goat) to enhance users' web application security knowledge. OWASP Live CD is free for commercial or non-commercial use.
- Xange. Xange is a Linux operating system, based on Fedora, KDE 4 and open-source applications. It has been designed for netbooks, laptops, desktops and servers. It contains the Firefox web browser, office tools, VLC multimedia player, Java, Google Gadgets, instant messaging with Skype and aMSN, Inkscape, Scribus and GIMP.
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DistroWatch database summary
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And this concludes the latest issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 25 May 2009.
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